george_hancockstefanThe concept of Apologetics is to take a subject and defend it before an audience.  It is the ability to present a subject so that the skeptic will become convinced of the truthfulness of your position. Most people who look quickly at the word mistakenly think that it has to do with apologizing for one’s belief. One of the verses most quoted about apologetics is from Peter – “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

The subject of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was central to the presentation of the Christian faith.  We see this often in the book of Acts.  Peter talks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Pentecost. Later on, he moves to Gentile territory and talks about the resurrection to Cornelius. Paul talks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem, to the philosophers and orators in Athens and to the ruling elite as he is accused before the royal court presided over by King Agrippa.

I find the last event very enlightening. “But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen – that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles. At this point, Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane.’

‘I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied. ‘What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’ Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains’ (Acts 26:22-29).

Paul took every opportunity given to him to proclaim Christ’s resurrection.  Once he is taken captive in Jerusalem, the line of defense is clear – I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead. (Acts 23:6b)

Therefore, Paul is arguing about the resurrection on three levels. On the first level he is arguing that the resurrection of the dead as exemplified in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was prophesized by the Old Testament prophets.  Jesus Himself is careful to show that all the things happening in his life – his crucifixion, suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension were foretold by the prophets.  Secondly, the resurrection did not happen in secret.  There were over 500 witnesses. Despite their search, the opposition did not find the dead body of Christ which would have been the quickest way to destroy this new Christian faith in its infancy.  Because Jesus Christ was seen alive, this changed the course of history.  Dead people do rise from the dead and Jesus is the firstfruits – the first one who will never die. Thirdly, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, ascended, and is coming back, the world will be judged by this Risen Christ. Therefore, we must critique our lifestyle to ensure that we will not be condemned in the last days.  To avoid this condemnation, the invitation is given to believe in this Risen Christ, follow Him and then share eternity with him, not condemned, but glorified.